Tiles are often used, but at least they are respected. In the bathroom, in the kitchen, as a floor covering or outside on the terrace or balcony, tiles are universal and versatile and come in an infinite number of shapes, materials and aspects. To ensure that the tiles last a long time and do not become unsightly or deteriorate too quickly due to weather, water, acids, alkalis and wear and tear, the tiles must be sealed. But you must be careful about the material your tiles are made of, as this involves different procedures.
Some require only sealing, others require impregnation and additional sealing. Valuable information and complete instructions for sealing and impregnating tiles are provided. Why seal the tiles? Tiles are a natural material, i.e. clay, which is robust and durable, but is also not completely immune to environmental influences, weathering and various attacks by acids and alkalis, e.g. during cleaning. In addition, the tiles are usually made of porcelain stoneware or stoneware tiles with a somewhat rough surface. This is not only noticeable in the worn knees of small children’s pants that slip on the tiles, but also in the fact that the dirt is particularly stubborn and difficult to remove. But you can protect your floors and wall coverings and seal the tiles. This way, they retain their new look for a few years, the sealant prevents water penetration and the surface shines more brightly.
The different types of tiles
If you have been instructed exactly how to seal the tiles, take a brief look at the different types of tile.
Open pore stoneware tiles are the simplest of all tiles. They can absorb up to ten percent water. Tiles that are not frost-proof or frost-resistant are therefore generally simple earthenware tiles. They are made of clay, kaolin, chalk and quartz and fired at 12,000 degrees. Nowadays, they are only used as wall tiles and are installed indoors. They are available untreated or also glazed. If you have untreated earthenware tiles or if you wish to embellish your walls with them, you will most likely have to impregnate them. Glazed stoneware tiles can easily be polished to a high gloss. They are ceramic tiles that are used as flooring indoors and outdoors. In addition to stoneware tiles, feldspar is used and they are fired at a higher temperature. These tiles absorb a maximum of three percent water. They are also available in unglazed and glazed versions. Unglazed tiles are mainly used when it is important that the surfaces are slip-resistant. Impregnation and sealing are then appropriate.
Porcelain stoneware tiles
In the mid-1980s, porcelain stoneware tiles appeared. These tiles are dry-pressed under high pressure and the pores are actually closed by the high firing temperatures. However, most porcelain stoneware tiles are polished, i.e. grinded for a better appearance. This opens the pores again and these tiles now also absorb dirt. Nevertheless, water only penetrates very little, as the material is highly compressed. In order to avoid soiling, first of all the porcelain stoneware tiles should also be impregnated and then sealed.
Also terracotta or briefly Cotto tiles are open-pored tiles that must be impregnated before sealing. Natural stone tiles are made of cut and polished natural stone and are of particularly high quality. Granite and marble are the most commonly used, but slate tiles are also becoming increasingly popular. For marble, it is recommended to use a sealant for slate tiles rather than glass or mirror tiles.
Glass and mirror tiles
Glass or mirror tiles are mainly used for walls. They are made of scratch-resistant glass.
The difference between impregnation and sealing tiles
The difference between waterproofing and impregnation tiles is quickly explained. The criterion is the depth of penetration of the agent used. During impregnation, the rather liquid agents also penetrate very deeply into the smallest pores, they serve to close the pores of the tiles. After impregnation and cleaning, these agents are then invisible. Sandstone, natural stone and cotto must be impregnated. Sealing agents are much more viscous than impregnations, they do not penetrate the pores, but form a film, a layer on the tiles. Both types of tile protection fade over time. The advantage of tile waterproofing is also its disadvantage. The tiles become smooth and shiny, are easy to clean, but also present a high risk of slipping. Especially outdoors or in the bathroom, when you are barefoot, this can lead to falls and injuries. That is why often only impregnation is used and if a high gloss is desired, glazed tiles are used.
Seal tiles properly
As mentioned above, impregnation is sufficient for most tiles. However, if you wish to obtain the special gloss or particularly hygienic surface that is created by sealing the tiles, you can use a sealant in addition to impregnation. Especially for porcelain stoneware tiles, sealing can still create a special surface protection, but also tiles on walls in damp rooms such as bathrooms or kitchens are gladly sealed.
List of materials for sealing and preparation of sealed tiles
Before sealing, tiles must be absolutely clean and dry, a basic cleaning of the surface is recommended. Then let the surface dry completely. If you have underfloor heating, turn it off in time before sealing the tiles, as the stone or sandstone must be naturally cold. Test your sealant in advance on a small sample area, so you can see, for example, how much your stone might discolor. With some stones, the coloration changes, it becomes a little darker, a wet effect will be created.
Impregnating the tiles
For certain types of tiles, such as porcelain stoneware and stoneware tiles, you will need to apply an impregnation prior to grouting. This is especially recommended for unglazed tiles. Many tiles are already pre-treated by the manufacturer with an impregnation, so pay attention to the description. If you want to impregnate tiles, it is important that the surface is absolutely clean and above all dry. It is preferable to clean the tiles with a lime-based cleaner, so that the agent can adhere well. Impregnations are available as spray or liquid agents. The spray is particularly easy to use, but you must take care to distribute it evenly.
With a liquid agent, which you pour into a container and then apply crosswise with a brush, you are on the right side. Wear gloves during the procedure and clothing that is not necessarily your best. After application, remove excess impregnating agent before it dries with a non-staining cloth. Then rub well. The surface should now dry for about a day.
The real tile sealer
Which agent is best suited for your tiles, you can find out in the product descriptions. You then apply the agent with a spray, sponge or large brush. Use the cross line method as for impregnation. You apply the putty in one direction and then spread it in the other direction. Then let the putty dry for at least 24 hours. It will now last up to five years, depending on how you use it. In this way, your tiles will look as if they were laid on the first day, long after they have been laid. When sealing and impregnating your tiles, you must absolutely include the joints, as they provide a special surface for dirt and water.
Seal the tiles with Nano sealer
The new Nano Sealant, which is now also used to seal tiles, offers particularly strong and durable protection. The individual particles that then form the sealant are much smaller than those of conventional sealants. As you can imagine, the previous sealants form a layer like many glass beads next to each other, the nano-seal next to it looks like the finest flour. This means that there are hardly any depressions and elevations in the protective layer and the sealant is not only smoother, but also lasts much longer than conventional sealants. In addition, the finest micro-scratches on the tiles close up, because the nanoparticles rearrange themselves in their structure in the micro-particle range.
Another positive effect is, as you may already know from car windows, the beading of water on the layer. This largely prevents lime stains and the surface is extremely easy to clean. It is hoped that the explanations have given you a better understanding of the jungle of sealing and impregnation and that you will be able to get down to work with enthusiasm.